12/27/07 — Sager to run for state House

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Sager to run for state House

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on December 27, 2007 2:12 PM

With state Rep. Louis Pate considering a run at retiring state Sen. John Kerr's seat, an opening has appeared in the House -- one Wayne County Commissioner Efton Sager is hoping to fill.

Announcing his intention to seek Pate's seat in the House should he decide to run for the Senate, Sager explained it's a position he's eyed only recently.

"I've been pondering it for the last couple of months. I've been doing a lot of soul searching," he said.

Setting off the chain of events was Kerr's announcement earlier this month that he plans to retire from the General Assembly at the end of 2008 after more than 20 years in Raleigh.

Since then, five Democrats (Kerr is a Democrat) and Pate have shown interest in throwing their hats into the ring.

Because Pate, a Republican in his fourth two-year term in the House, can't file for both seats, Sager decided that he would seek their party's nomination.

"Only because he's vacating the seat," Sager said. "I wouldn't run in a primary against Louis because I think he has done a good job."

But now that the path has been cleared, he continued, he thinks he's the best candidate for the position.

"I feel that my experience with local government will be an asset in the state legislature," he said. "I've got a good knowledge of what's helping the counties and what's hurting the counties.

"I think that's a position where I can be of even greater service."

His platform, he explained, will basically be one of fiscal responsibility -- ensuring the proper distribution of lottery funds to the counties and ensuring the continuation of Medicaid reform. He also voiced concerns about an idea floating around the legislature that would put at least partial responsibility for road maintenance on the counties -- potentially a "bigger burden than Medicaid," he said.

"That's primarily it -- fiscal responsibility," he said. "I want to help limit pork barrel spending and I want money being spent where it needs to be spent."

Sager, 74, is a retired first sergeant in the U.S. Air Force where he served for 21 years in both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

Currently, he is a business manager for J.W. Logging, a local logging company, and is in his fourth two-year term as county commissioner for District 4, which covers southwestern Wayne County, including part of Mount Olive, Rosewood and Mar Mac, which he calls home.

Prior to his election to the county Board of Commissioners, Sager also served on the Wayne County Board of Elections and on the Southern Wayne Sanitary District Board.

As county commissioner, he serves on the Education Steering Committee for the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, and as Wayne County's representative on the East Carolina Council of Government, where he is in his second two-year term as president. He also serves on the Wayne County Board of Health and as vice chairman on the Wayne County Red Cross Board of Directors.

He hopes that his local experience will propel him toward the Republican nomination and eventually the seat itself.

"My commitment to the constituents of District 11 (which is entirely in Wayne County) is to represent them to the best of my ability, study all the issues and have the courage of my convictions to fight for what is right and oppose those issues that are wrong," Sager said. "I hope people know about my action on the county board and that I'm willing to stand up for what's right.

"I stand on my record as a commissioner."